Germany’s History of Failure Against Italy

June 26, 2012


“Germany is favored to win Thursday’s Euro 2012 semifinal against Italy. While Die Manschschaft has played the best and most consistent football in the tournament, the Azzurri have won just one game in regulation and reached the semifinal only after surviving a penalty shootout against England. History provides a counterpoint to soccernomics-style prognostications, however, because the Germans — or West Germans — have never defeated Italy in Euros or World Cup tournaments.” Football is Coming Home (Video), Germany’s History of Failure vs. Italy: Part 2 (Video)


The European Cup and the New Europe

June 26, 2012

“During international football competitions like the European Cup, eleven players briefly become their country, for a time, on the pitch. A nation is a difficult thing to grasp: unpalpable, mythic, flighty. Historians might labor away to define the precise contours of a country’s culture and institutions, and even sometimes attempt to delineate it’s soul, while political leaders try mightily (and persistently fail) to stand as representatives of it’s ideals. But in a way there is nothing quite so tactile, so real, as the way a team represents a nation: during their time on the pitch, they have in their hands a small sliver of the country’s destiny. And in those miraculous and memorable moments when individual trajectories intersect with a national sporting victory, sometimes biographies and histories seem briefly to meld. At such moments, the players who inhabit the crossroads of sporting and national history –Maradona in 1986, Zidane in 1998 — become icons, even saints.” Soccer Politics


Random Fandom: A Man Without a Country at Euro 2012

June 26, 2012

“In truth, I would rather not be holding a two-foot-by-three-foot piece of black construction paper above my head as ‘Das Deutschlandlied’ echoes around me. A couple hundred other people standing in my general vicinity adopt poses similar to mine. I realize that the millions watching on television across the world can’t see my face—instead, they’ll see the rendition of the German flag our pieces of paper collectively create. But still, it feels vaguely wrong and more than a little creepy to be joining in this display. For starters, this is because I’m not German. I don’t know the words for this song, for another. I’m happy to root for the team and don’t harbor any ill will towards modern Germany, but I have no reason to take pride in it as a country. The nationalistic display feels off. It’s not mine.” The Classical


Euro 2012 Semifinal Preview

June 26, 2012


“The four semifinalists of Euro 2012 are the four best teams in the tournament, the four that deserve to be here and the four that all played positive, attacking soccer against opponents that (in one way or another) all tried to park the bus in the quarterfinals. How often does that happen in a major tournament? Very rarely. So let’s hear it for Spain, Germany, Italy and Portugal, a final four that couldn’t be finer. And let’s hear it for the sport itself, which too often rewards teams that play anti-soccer in the tournaments that matter most.” SI


Breaking down Euro 2012 semifinals

June 26, 2012

“What a tournament so far, right? As Chris Ryan noted in his quarterfinal review on Grantland, we’ve been lucky in that the more limited, defensive sides in the final eight are heading home and now we’re left with arguably the best four teams from the 16-team field. No luck, no chance — just quality and skill.” ESPN (Video)


The Question: why have there been so many headed goals at Euro 2012?

June 26, 2012

“There is little remarkable about the fact that this tournament has yielded 69 goals in its opening 28 games. If the two semi-finals and final produce eight goals between them there will, for the third tournament running, have been 77 goals in a finals. What is remarkable, though, is that of those 69, already 20 have been from headers – already three more than the record of 17 set in 2004. While Andy Roxburgh, the head of Uefa’s technical committee, has been characteristically cautious, insisting that the sample size is too small to draw any definitive conclusions, Michel Platini has been keen to claim credit, insisting that the introduction of extra officials behind the goals has reduced the amount of grappling at corners and free-kicks.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


ANALYSIS: Does Cristiano Ronaldo do it in the big games?

June 26, 2012

“In his own mind he’s the best player in the world, while in the minds of others he isn’t even in the top 10. No matter which way you look at it, Cristiano Ronaldo divides opinion. After a season in which the one-time World Player of the Year won La Liga for the first time since joining Real Madrid in 2009, Ronaldo was criticised intensely after Portugal’s first two games at Euro 2012. Never mind the 60 goals in all competitions in 2011/12, a few admittedly simple missed chances against Germany and Denmark had the public on the 27-year-old’s back once again.” Just Football


Making History In the Copa Libertadores Final

June 26, 2012


Independiente with the 1975 Copa Libertadores trophy
“This year’s Copa Libertadores final, between Boca Juniors and Corinthians, is a truly heavyweight clash. On and off the pitch, the two combatants are giants of South American football. They are both current national champions and hold 28 league titles and four national cup titles between them. They are the most popular clubs in their respective megacities, beloved for their working-class roots, and count their supporters in the tens of millions.” In Bed With Maradona

Corinthians close in on Libertadores dream
“Some 20 years ago, Corinthians director Luis Paulo Rosenberg made a promise to himself. He said, ‘[When we win the Copa Libertadores] I want to buy a bottle of cachaca (the local moonshine), drink it all myself and sleep in the gutter, drunk.’ He has never been closer to buying that bottle. In the 53rd version of the South America’s Champions League, the Brazilian giants have made it through to the final at last. They are two games away from lifting the trophy – the final is played on a home and away basis with the first match on 27 June and the return leg on 4 July.” BBC – Tim Vickery


Gavin Hamilton Euro 2012 diary: June 26, Kiev

June 26, 2012

“England are out and the inquest begins. Though the initial angst over penalties was inevitable, the long-term discussion needs to go deeper. The question should not be why do England keep losing on penalties, but why do England keep ending up in so many penalty shoot-outs. The simple fact is that England were not good enough to beat Italy over 120 minutes. Indeed, they were a very poor second. For Italy, you can substitute Portugal in 2004, Argentina in 1998 and Germany in 1996.” World Soccer


The Great Roy Hodgson and the Lazy Arabs

June 26, 2012

“Paul. I have been a subscriber of this site since the very first day it launched. I have always supported you and enjoyed your writing. This time however, you have simply gone too far. Way too far. What you fail to understand is that none of this was Hodgson’s doing. The good bits, like the bit when Walcott’s shot seemed to deflect in or when the Ukraine ‘keeper dropped the ball, they were his doing. So was the bit when Ukraine had a goal disallowed. But in no way shape or form can the performance of the England team be blamed on him.” Tomkins Times